The contribution of dysregulated mitochondrial gene expression and consequent imbalance in biogenesis is not well understood in metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance and obesity. The ribosomal RNA maturation protein PTCD1 is essential for mitochondrial protein synthesis and its reduction causes adult-onset obesity and liver steatosis. We used haploinsufficient Ptcd1 mice fed normal or high fat diets to understand how changes in mitochondrial biogenesis can lead to metabolic dysfunction. We show that Akt-stimulated reduction in lipid content and upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis effectively protected mice with reduced mitochondrial protein synthesis from excessive weight gain on a high fat diet, resulting in improved glucose and insulin tolerance and reduced lipid accumulation in the liver. However, inflammation of the white adipose tissue and early signs of fibrosis in skeletal muscle, as a consequence of reduced protein synthesis, were exacerbated with the high fat diet. We identify that reduced mitochondrial protein synthesis and OXPHOS biogenesis can be recovered in a tissue-specific manner via Akt-mediated increase in insulin sensitivity and transcriptional activation of the mitochondrial stress response.
Keywords: mTOR and insulin signaling pathways; metabolic syndrome; mitochondria; obesity; stress response.